LIMA — Why aren’t wages rising faster? Recruiters are posing that question to employers as jobs go unfilled and turnover persists, with some workers leaving their current job for minimal raises.
“A lot of companies’ philosophies are: We need to build up reserves for when the next hard time begins … wages have not really kept up with the economy,” said Bob Bethel, vice president of human resources and learning services with the Employers Association.
Bethel led a seminar on compensation in Lima last week, during which he encouraged companies here to consider whether their wages are competitive enough to attract new employees.
Staffing agency Spherion pushed a similar message when it released a salary guide this summer outlining current pay rates for common jobs the agency fills. The agency also published a workforce study, which concluded that compensation is the top motivator for job seekers and the most common reason employees plan to leave their current jobs.
“Almost every industry is seeing that they have to raise their pay to be competitive,” said Karen Grothouse, CEO of Spherion in Lima. “Not everybody can afford to do that, but those that do get the people first.”
Earnings for welders and machinists — two in-demand occupations here — appear to be matching or leading the market, according to Spherion’s salary recommendations for Lima and 2018 median salaries for both occupations from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
But that hasn’t been the case for other occupations like office clerks, medical secretaries and even mechanical engineers, whose earnings were at or below the 25th percentile for their market, according to the Spherion guide and BLS data.
Grothouse said employers who cannot afford to raise wages often resort to other recruitment strategies like flexible hours.
“We have one company here in Lima that is paying slightly above minimum wage, and one reason employees like to go to that company is because they can choose to work today but not tomorrow. That flexibility is important,” she said.
Cynthia Leis, director of business development for the Allen Economic Development Group, said the rising cost of building materials, transportation and health care may make it difficult for some companies to offer higher wages.
But she said AEDG frequently hears from companies with unfilled jobs, and compensation is often part of that conversation.
“If a company is having a hard time keeping or recruiting employees the question is – how do your wages compare to others in the county? People are leaving for 50 cents or more an hour,” she said.
Reach Mackenzi Klemann at 567-242-0456.